I have a Mac Mini (with USB 3.0 ports, one Thunderbolt port, and one Ethernet port) and two MacBooks (both with Thunderbolt and USB 3.0 but no Ethernet ports).

I want to use the Mac Mini as a central repository (essentially a NAS or external hard drive) for video footage that the two MacBooks can transfer files from at the highest possible speed.

I've considered and researched the following things and haven't found a solution:

  • USB 3.0 male to male crossover cables (don't exist)
  • Ethernet crossover cable network (MacBooks don't have Ethernet jacks, would this work with Ethernet to Thunderbolt adapters?)
  • daisy-chaining Mac Mini → MacBook 1 → MacBook 2 using Thunderbolt (not sure if this is possible, can any body verify?)

If none of these options are possible, I guess I'll have to connect the Mini to the network via Ethernet and hope transfer speeds are decent.


I think this is what you're looking for as a cheap and easy solution:




Get a switch, plug your three computers into it via ethernet, and configure them all with static IPs on the same subnet. You can also run a DHCP server on the Mini if you want, but it's not required for this sort of setup.

If you really want the absolute fastest, you'd need to use IP over Thunderbolt directly, but that's getting rather more complicated: http://forums.macrumors.com/showthread.php?t=1657957 Not even sure there are Thunderbolt networking switches available yet.


I'd seriously recommend getting an inexpensive router and using it as your network base. TP Link makes very reliable and cheap gigabit routers, Asus makes modestly priced and even more capable routers, N18U would be a quick recommendation, available at around $60 right now. Just turn off the wifi and don't connect anything to the blue WLAN port.

Asus N18U backside with four 1000Base-T ports

Apple USB 2 Ethernet adapter

Apple Thunderbolt to Gigabit Ethernet Adapter

In this case the DHCP management is done by the router, massively simplifying your network set up (no static IP's needed). You'd still need the Apple USB Ethernet Adapters for 100Base-T speeds (in which case a $25 100Base-T ethernet router would be enough, you almost certainly have one in your basement or attic). This would offer about 7 MB/sec transfer speeds. With the Thunderbolt to Ethernet Adapter, you'd see between 40 MB/sec to 70 MB/sec transfer speeds. The Thunderbolt to Ethernet Adapter costs the same as the Apple USB Ethernet Adapters (about $30) but it does take over your external display port.

You haven't said if you would still like to be be able to use Thunderbolt for either an external display and/or external storage (which often does offer a passthrough).

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